Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

Movie Name/Year: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Length: Between 40 mins and 90 mins approx.
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: House Of Tomorrow, Netflix
Producer: Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones, Mark Kinsella, Marshall Leviten, Russell McLean
Director: David Slade
Writer: Charlie Brooker
Actors: Fionn Whitehead, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe, Asim Chaudhry, Will Poulter, Tallulah Haddon, Catriona Knox, Paul Bradley, Jonathan Aris, A.J. Houghton, Fleur Keith, Laura Evelyn, Alan Asaad, Suzanne Burden, Jeff Minter

Blurb from Netflix: In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he adapts a dark fantasy novel into a video game. A mind-bending tale with multiple endings.

Selina’s Point of View:
We opted not to roll today in order to give this interactive entertainment experience a shot.

Now, although this is my first exposure to Black Mirror (2011-), this is not my first time watching an interactive movie. Two years ago, Markiplier posted an interactive experience called A Date with Markiplier (2017). Just like Bandersnatch, it featured several different endings.

Because of that history, I knew what to expect with this film. I still think it’s revolutionary.

Now, choose your own adventure books don’t get a lot of love. I read them when I was a kid, but they don’t tend to have a lasting appeal. In movie form, however, I think there’s a lot more room for success… even though it does mean a ton of extra work.

I watched through the story several times and got about five different endings. Some were better than others, but I don’t want to go into it because I don’t want to spoil anything. My favorite ending was definitely the final one I got.

The choices start off as pretty mundane. What cereal will you eat for breakfast? What music will you listen to on the bus? Things quickly turn more life-altering, though.

I think the entire thing was done incredibly well. I’ve heard of how creepy Black Mirror can get, and I think this movie probably fits right in, but I’ll have to watch the show to be sure.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have always been a huge fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books. Interactive media, in general, has always been appealing to me – but those books really hit me in the nostalgia feels. I remember checking out the same books over and over again from my school library so that I could explore different paths of the stories.

I have been cheering from the sidelines as Netflix has been introducing programming such as this. Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale (2017) was the beginning of this new adventure with the streaming giant. My daughter and I enjoyed that experience immensely. There weren’t nearly as many choices in that title as there are in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, but that’s like comparing balloons to pears. Both are generally oblong, but are totally different. Bandersnatch is certainly a later-generation evolution of the concept.

There are so many tiny nuances within the story regardless the path you take. Just keep in mind that while the official published run-time is about 90 minutes, there are more than 5 hours of footage available between all the story paths. If you are in the mood to explore every rabbit hole this tale dives into, prepare to spend a chunk of time doing so. The thing is – you might not even notice. When one path ends, even more choices appear for you – unless you’ve come to a credit-running ending, of course. Just have no fear of taking a "wrong" turn along the way. You don’t have to do anything convoluted to continue your experience.

Looking through the trivia section on IMDb, I realize that fans of the Black Mirror (2011-) Netflix series will get a good deal more out of this experience. I’m going to have to bump that series up on my to-watch list and then give this movie another watch-through. I don’t feel like I missed anything important for lack of recognition of the plethora of Easter eggs, however. The film's premise and story are clear enough without them. It simply reinforced my desire to watch the anthology series.

This interactive experience was, at times, a bit disturbing due to the choices offered. Everything starts with simple choices to get your feet wet - but don't worry. You'll be taking a plunge into the deep end in short order. The story was a bit on the trippy side, and it gets really meta in a few places. Just keep in mind the TV-MA rating here. It’s a rather dark tale at its core; and the choices the main character has to make can be a bit on the heavy side.

I recognize that this particular story won't be for everyone – but I am pleased with this advancement in the interactive storytelling genre. I can’t wait to see where they go from here with it. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 61/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.9/10
IMDB Score – 7.4/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5

Movie Trailer:

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